It can be easy to mimic our mentors or peers. However, our priorities and values aren’t always identical to theirs. Keep track of your own goals by regularly asking, “What’s important now?” to make better decisions on what you tackle next.
In Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, author Greg McKeown writes about how a basketball team stays focused on their own strategies and strengths in spite of their opponents:
First, the players apply the question constantly throughout the game. Instead of getting caught up rehashing the last play that went wrong, or spending their mental energy worrying about whether they are going to lose the game, neither of which is helpful or constructive, Larry encourages them to focus only on the play they are in right now.
Second, the question “What’s important now?” helps them stay focused on how they are playing. Larry believes a huge part of winning is determined by whether the players are focused on their own game or on their opponent’s game. If the players start thinking about the other team they lose focus. Consciously or not, they start wanting to play the way the other team is playing. They get distracted and divided. By focusing on their game in the here and now, they can all unite around a single strategy. This level of unity makes execution of their game plan relatively frictionless.
That’s not to say you’ll succeed at everything you do. Sometimes, timing may not be right. Other times, you’ll encounter competition that’s simply better — either with greater resources or with a better skilset. Yet constantly asking yourself, “What’s important now?” will help you focus on the right priorities with the right timing.
The Difference Between Losing and Being Beaten [Farnam Street]